By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Four Oklahoma women who have demonstrated leadership abilities in the military, from the bench and in the business world will be inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame on Thursday, October 10. Sponsored by the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women (OCSW), the ceremony will be held at 4 p.m., at the Oklahoma Judicial Center, 2100 N. Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City.
A reception will follow the event, which is free and open to the public.
The 2019 Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame inductees are Maj. (ret.) Helen Freudenberger Holmes (Posthumous), Chief Justice Noma Gurich, Judy Love, and Ollie Starr.
“We are honored to recognize these outstanding women who have devoted themselves to improving their communities by welcoming them into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame,” said Denise Castelli, 2019 Chair of the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.
“These women have inspired Oklahoma women, families and children and continue to be exemplary role models for people across the state.”
Born near Pleasant Valley, Helen Freudenberger Holmes (December 16, 1915 – March 22, 1997) pioneered women’s role in the military. While serving as the public relations representative of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State University), she was selected for the first class of Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) officer candidates from Oklahoma. Sworn in on July 9, 1942, Holmes was the first woman from Oklahoma to be inducted into active military service during World War II. Following active duty service, Holmes became the second woman to serve as mayor of Guthrie. In 2019, Major Holmes was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame and the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame.
Justice Noma Gurich became Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court on January 1, 2019, having served as Justice on the Supreme Court of Oklahoma since 2011. She is the third woman in state history to serve as a Supreme Court Justice and has been a member of the Oklahoma Judiciary for over 30 years. In 2011, The Journal Record inducted her into the Woman of the Year Circle of Excellence; in 2013, she received the Oklahoma City Chapter of the Association of Women in Communications Byliner Award for Civic Leadership; and in 2014, the OU College of Law inducted her into the Order of the Owl Hall of Fame.
A leader in both business and nonprofits, Judy Love is a long-time philanthropist through one of the nation’s largest private companies, Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores. Love’s talent, time and financial contributions has helped the only school for homeless students, Positive Tomorrows, and established Cristo Rey, a private Catholic high school. In 2010, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and in 2016, she was voted the Most Powerful Woman in Oklahoma City. In 2017, Forbes Magazine listed her as one of America’s most successful self-made women. Love serves on the boards of Mercy Hospital, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma Hall of Fame and United Way of Central Oklahoma.
From Claremore, Ollie Starr was instrumental in revitalizing the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club. Established in 1899, the Club began as a past-time group for native women returning home in the summers from seminaries and colleges. Today, the club remains active in cultural preservation and community service. Starr promotes issues for elder Cherokees, securing grant money to enable young women to pursue higher education and helping improve living conditions for Cherokee seniors. In 2017, she received the Cherokee Nation Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame was established in 1982 by then Gov. George Nigh. Since then, 128 Oklahoma women have received this highest honor for contributing to significant and recognizable changes that benefit the lives of women and families in Oklahoma, the nation or the world through professional leadership, civic involvement or volunteer community efforts.
“This distinction is a tribute to the transformational impact that these Oklahoma women have had on their communities,” said Denise Castelli, the 2019 Committee Chair of the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.
“They will be forever be remembered for their actions that changed lives and for their leadership that benefitted everyone around them.”